MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin senior forward Ryan Evans sustained a right knee sprain during Thursday’s practice and is listed as questionable for Sunday’s senior day game against Purdue.
Badgers forward Sam Dekker said Evans — who did not practice on Friday — injured himself while making a move through the lane and attempting to jump off his left foot. The injury occurred before reporters were allowed into practice.
“I think he was going to try to go through someone for a dunk,” Dekker said. “He let out a little yell. At first, I was pretty worried, but he calmed down right away. He walked out, so that was a good sign.”
Evans wasn’t made available to the media Friday.
During his Wisconsin career, Evans has played in all 131 games. He has started all 28 games this season and the last 64 games overall. This season, he ranks third on the team in scoring (10.5 points) and first in rebounds (7.6).
Evans spoke earlier in the week, before Wisconsin’s 77-46 victory against Nebraska, about his emotions as senior day draws near.
“I’m a person who really doesn’t have many regrets,” Evans said. “I feel as though I came here and I went all in. I took my body to the limit until it can’t go too much further. I don’t have many regrets.”
It hasn’t been the smoothest of seasons for Evans, who has persevered despite inexplicable struggles from the free throw line. A 71.1 percent career free-throw shooter before the season, he entered the week hitting just 40.5 percent of his foul shots. That prompted him to switch to a unique jump shooting technique, and he made both of his attempts against Nebraska.
“He means a ton,” Dekker said. “I feel like a lot of people get on him for some things he does that people don’t like, and a lot of fans get on his case. But I don’t think people realize how much we use him and how much of a factor he is. Even on the offensive end, teams have to take him away and it opens up looks for other guys. …
“He’s been here for 40 years. That’s something we can always use. He wants to win more than anything. When you have a guy like that in the locker room and on the court, whenever you’re missing him, it’s going to be tough. But like I said, he’s going to be out there. He’s going to be playing. He’s a vital part of what we do and he’s a vital part of our success this year.”
If Evans can’t play, Dekker would be the likely candidate to fill his role in the starting lineup. The freshman ranks fourth on the team in scoring (9.5 points per game) as the Badgers’ sixth man.
Wisconsin has been hit by a string of injuries throughout the season. Badgers forward Mike Bruesewitz missed the season’s first two games after lacerating his leg when he collided with the back half of a basket standard during a practice. He later sat out two games in December with a concussion. And starting point guard Josh Gasser suffered a season-ending ACL tear in practice on Oct. 27.
Badgers center Jared Berggren — who will be honored alongside Evans, Bruesewitz, Dan Fahey and J.D. Wise on senior day — said the team is fortunate that Evans’ injury doesn’t appear to be as severe as the others. And he remains optimistic Evans will be able to take the floor for his final home game.
“When Josh went down you could kind of tell,” Berggren said. “There was the initial scream, but you could just see it on his face. He knew it was bad. I just didn’t quite get the feeling with Ryan when I was standing over him, ready to help him up, giving him a second to collect himself. I didn’t have quite that same feeling, so that was good.”